What Are Your Rights When it Comes to Emergency Vehicles?Written on March 17, 2015
Flashing blue lights in the rearview mirror usually don’t give you a very good feeling. There are times, though, that those flashing lights don’t mean you are about to get pulled over. It could mean that an emergency vehicle is trying to get through traffic. In many cases, there has been an accident or medical emergency that requires a police car, ambulance, or fire truck to put on lights and sirens in order to get to the destination as quickly as possible.
There are a number of traffic laws in Georgia that relate to emergency vehicles. It’s important to be familiar with these and to know what you should do in the event an emergency vehicle is approaching you. If you don’t, you could very well find yourself with an expensive citation in hand.
It may sound like common sense, but if an emergency vehicle is approaching you with lights and sirens on, or attempting to move through an intersection, you should get out of the way. According to the Georgia Code: “Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle or a vehicle belonging to a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency making use of an audible signal and visual signals…..the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right of way…”
Police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances don’t turn on their emergency equipment just because they feel like it. Those lights and sirens are on because there is an emergency somewhere. If another officer, not responding to the emergency call, sees a car fail to yield, there will almost certainly be an expensive citation issued.
It’s important to note that those driving emergency vehicles are required to use “due regard” when responding to an emergency. That means a police officer can’t just zoom through an intersection against the red light without being absolutely sure the oncoming traffic has yielded. If due regard isn’t used, and an accident occurs, there could very well be civil repercussions for the officer and his or her agency.
Georgia also has a “move over” law on the books. If you are driving on a highway, and see an emergency vehicle on the shoulder with its lights flashing, you are required to move over a lane if you can do so safely. According to FBI statistics, traffic related crashes claim more law enforcement lives than any other line of duty deaths. If ticketed for failing to “move over,” the fine could be as much as $500. If you simply can’t move over because of traffic, the law states a driver must “…reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.”
Have you ever been stopped by a funeral procession? Did you know that there is a law that addresses the right of way for cars that are part of a funeral? In Cobb County, many funeral processions are escorted by a police or sheriff’s office vehicle. Those vehicles, according to the law, have the right of way at intersections, which includes stop signs and red lights. Even if not accompanied by a police car, funeral processions have the right of way at intersections. Any car that attempts to join the processions by turning on headlights or proceeding through an intersection could be ticketed and fined $100. The same fine applies to vehicles that fail to yield the right of way to a funeral. Drivers are also prohibited from passing a funeral on any two lane road.
If you have been ticketed for any of the above infractions and feel you are innocent, call The Silverbach Group today. Traffic citations, whether related to emergency vehicles or not, can be costly and troublesome if not promptly addressed. If you have received a citation and failed to pay or attend your court date, there may already be a bench warrant for your arrest. The attorneys at The Silverbach Group are experienced and ready to help. You can reach us at 770-635-0334.